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CPS Safe Passage in Humboldt Park: 'They Haven't Said Anything to Us'

By Erica Demarest | August 10, 2013 10:27am
 CPS released Safe Passage routes on Friday.
CPS Safe Passages
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HUMBOLDT PARK — Neighbors of Lafayette and Chopin Elementary schools said they’ve noticed Safe Passage signs popping up in Humboldt Park, but still aren’t sure what to expect when school starts later this month.

“They haven’t said anything to us. They don’t come over here,” said Bob Kurek, 54, who lives along the Safe Passage route that will guide students to Chopin Elementary, 2450 W. Rice St.

Chopin is a “welcoming school” for Lafayette Elementary, 2714 W. Augusta Blvd., one of the 50 schools CPS shuttered earlier this year.

On Friday, the city released maps for expanded Safe Passage routes, which will be patrolled by 600 new staffers in an attempt to get more than 30,000 displaced students to school safely.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy asked residents near the routes to "come out on their porch or sidewalk" to ensure that there is a "positive adult presence on these streets, on these routes before and after school.”

“That’d be great if I didn’t have to be at work at 6 a.m.,” Kurek said. “The kids aren’t here until 9.”

Residents near Chopin said on Friday they haven’t received information from police, CPS or the local alderman.

“They don’t get the word out until it’s too late,” said Anthony Noe, 51. “You hear about things like this after the fact.”

Noe, who has a flexible work schedule, said he’d be happy to patrol the Safe Passage route, but “they need to give us more information.”

“All my family went to school” at Chopin, he said. “I walk in the neighborhood all the time.”

Neighbors said the area near Chopin is relatively quiet and safe. Garage burglaries happen on occasion, Kurek said, but bullets and drugs haven’t been problems for years.

“The thing I’m worried about is the kids coming from Lafayette,” Kurek said. “They’re still in that type of neighborhood [with gangs and violence]. I’m worried about what they’re bringing over here.”

For some newly minted Chopin parents, getting over there is half the problem.

“They left out people who are working” when CPS planned the school closures, said Carmen Pinero, 31. “They completely forgot about us.”

Pinero’s 6-year-old daughter, Gianna, will start first grade at Chopin this month. But her son, 4-year-old Daniel, will attend preschool elsewhere because Chopin’s program is booked to capacity.

To make matters worse, Chopin doesn’t offer the same before- and aftercare programs that Lafayette did. And Pinero's kids aren't old enough to walk to school themselves.

“I have to drop off two kids in two different schools at 8:45 and pick them up at 3:45,” Pinero said. “What parent can work a schedule where they can do that?

“We can’t tell our bosses: Change my schedule because they closed three schools around my house.”

The Chopin Safe Passage route will run along West Augusta Boulevard between North Mozart and North Campbell avenues; West Iowa Street between North California and North Campbell avenues; and North Campbell Avenue between West Augusta Boulevard and West Rice Street.